Other States

Congress options limited, may go it alone in U.P.

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee office in Lucknow. File

Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee office in Lucknow. File   | Photo Credit: PTI


Congress believes that the Brahmin community is angry with the Yogi Adityanath government and could look at the party as an option.

The Congress Core Group, a panel of party’s top leaders, are meeting Pradesh Congress Committee or State unit chiefs on January 9 to discuss key issues for the 2019 election, including the prospect of going it alone in Uttar Pradesh.

On Saturday, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Rajendra Chaudhary declared that the SP would have a tie-up with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) but didn’t mention the Congress as a partner. He, however, indicated that the alliance won’t field candidates from Rae Bareli and Amethi, traditional seats of the Gandhi family.

With 80 Lok Sabha seats at stake in U.P., the party’s strategy is going to be crucial. Speaking with The Hindu, U.P. Congress chief Raj Babbar said “all the anti-BJP forces should join hands.” “Even today, we are saying that political parties who want the BJP government at the Centre to be defeated should come together. That is the mood of the people,” Mr. Babbar said.

He claimed that people’s mood was “reflected” by the results of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Asked if the Congress could fight alone, as it did in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Mr. Babbar said: “All I can say is that even now we want everyone together. I can’t say what happens tomorrow.”

Gains from loan waiver

Other leaders in the party, who didn’t wish to be named, said the party was working on a plan B targeting specific groups and castes. They assert that by fulfilling the promise of farm loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the party has consolidated its position among farmers. And the party could look at “farmers as a constituency that will rise above traditional caste divisions.”

Another constituency that the Congress will target is the Brahmins. The party believes that the community is angry with the Yogi Adityanath government and could look at the Congress as an option. In fact, before the 2017 Assembly poll tie-up with the SP happened, the Congress had declared former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its CM face to woo the Brahmin votebank. While the 2011 Census puts the Brahmins at eight per cent of U.P.’s population, unofficial estimates put the number close to 12 per cent in 2018. In fact, Congress leaders refer to the U.P. Chief Minister by his original name Ajay Singh Bisht to indicate his “Thakur caste” more than his identity as the head of the Baba Gorakhnath Mutt.

Shivpal Yadav factor

The Congress also believes that the party will find favour among Muslims as they “will look at the national picture” with party chief Rahul Gandhi emerging as the main challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress sources also indicated that former SP leader Shivpal Yadav, who has floated his own party, could gravitate towards it along with other smaller players.

But the section of the Congress that argues for a grand alliance cite Congress’s lack of organisational strength in the State and point out how its candidate lost the security deposit in the 2018 byelection to the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat, once held by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Also, if one adds up the BSP’s support base of Jatav Dalits (9 per cent), SPs’ Yadav base (9 per cent), Muslims (19.3 per cent) and Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jat (2.7) , the SP-BSP-RLD alliance covers nearly 40 per cent of the population.

“They are looking at arithmetic but what is required is chemistry. It’s a very a delicate issue and we do not want a division of anti-BJP votes. That can catapult them in U.P. and that would be a historic blunder. But, at the same time, we cannot afford to be a non-player in U.P.,” said a Lucknow-based senior leader.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 7:50:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-options-limited-may-go-it-alone-in-up/article25926501.ece

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